A Bernalillo house fire in early August gave the Sandoval County Fire Department its first chance to practice a new firefighting technique that promises to reduce the damage fires cause to both property and people.
In this case, the technique allowed firefighters to confine the damage to a single room. There were no injuries, and Sandoval County Fire Chief James Maxon said even the furniture that was in that room can be restored.
For this effort, firefighters from Sandoval County and the Town of Bernalillo got a big thanks from the homeowner, 82-year-old Ophelia Rinaldi. The firefighters also were featured in a story on KRQE News 13. The feature highlighted the new firefighting technique known as SLICERS. See the graphic below for the meaning of the acronym.
The key letter in the acronym, as the New 13 story notes, is the C, which stands for Cool from the safest location.
“We want to hit the body of the fire from the outside, if possible, cool it down and then come inside and extinguish the rest of the fire,” Chief Maxon told News 13. “That makes it more tenable for firefighters in there. But if there’s anybody in there that we can rescue, it also makes it more tenable for them, as well, to be able to survive the fire.”
Chief Maxon has made it mandatory for all Sandoval County firefighters to be trained in this new technique, which he calls one the biggest advancement he’s seen in his 23-year career. Other departments across New Mexico also are now adopting the technique.
It certainly made a difference for Rinaldi when sparks from roofing work ignited the fire at her home. “I’m glad the fire department was here and they had the special technique that they used,” she said. “I still have my home. I’m safe.”